Does the diesel engines hold the future of the Indian passenger car market? With rising petrol prices, most manufacturers are shifting the bulk of their production from petrol to diesel. Many manufacturers who do not have a diesel engine in their portfolio have majorly bleed their market share heavily in the recent months while those who have highly efficient diesel variants have gained market share.
Maruti Suzuki does not have a diesel engine in its portfolio. The manufacturer was saved by Fiat’s highly efficient diesel engine –Multijet. With the help of Multijet, Maruti Suzuki has managed to retain its dominance but just marginally. The company’s market share has been consistently falling despite posting record sales.
One major cause is that its volumes models such as Alto, Wagon R and EECO do not have a diesel engine whereas their rivals do. Maruti Suzuki launched alternative fuel options on its volumes models to lure the customers but the government’s erratic attitude towards LPG/CNG has not helped much. The Multijet is too big of an engine for Alto/WagonR so the crux of the hour is to develop a small diesel engine that would reduce the dependence on Fiat.
But now Maruti Suzuki is pumping Rs 900 crore into the Rohtak, Haryana centre to make sure that a small diesel engine is developed as soon as possible. The idea is to develop a smaller capacity one liter diesel engine, having three cylinders for Alto and WagonR. But the company is very tight lipped about any further information.
Video - General Motors 1-liter XSDE Smartech diesel engine
Another angle Maruti Suzuki could look into is sourcing the 1 litre XDSE Smartech Engine from GM India. Currently, the Smartech powers the Beat diesel and was developed by GM’s Bangalore Powertrain facility. It is not that different from Fiat’s Multijet because it uses the same principles though with one less cylinder.
The Smartech engine could be plonked into the Wagon R to bring up its appeal. This way, Maruti Suzuki would also save up a lot of moollah that it needs to spend on developing a small diesel engine from scratch.
Tata Motors is also working on a diesel engine for the Nano which is expected to deliver 35-40kmpl in the ARAI tests. Definitely, the Nano would then threaten the Alto’s existence.
Do you think Smartech is the way forward for Maruti Suzuki?
Chevrolet Beat diesel Image Gallery